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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Marpe: Feds Plans for High Speed Rail Could Disrupt Town

The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) plans to expand and construct a high-speed rail infrastructure from Washington D.C. to Boston could disrupt residential and historic areas of Westport, town officials said today.

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The Federal Railroad Administration’s plans to build a high speed rail system between Washington and Boston were outlined in a July report. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

“The implications and potential disruption to residential and historic neighborhoods in Westport cannot be ignored,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a statement.

“While the notion of high speed travel to Boston and Washington sounds attractive, I am confident that most Westporters would prefer that our commuter rail transportation be addressed first to reduce the travel time between Westport and New York City,” he added.

Sara Harris, the town’s operations director, said the FRA’s Tier I Record of Decision (ROD) appears to create a new rail corridor and right-of-way between New Rochelle, New York. and Green’s Farms, including a rail route through the Saugatuck area that connects with the existing Metro-North right-of-way west of the Green’s Farms station.

“Of additional concern is that the plans for the first time identify the Green’s Farms Station as an interconnect point between the high speed line and local rail transportation,” Harris said.

“This suggests a significant expansion of activity at that station,” she added, saying the specific routing, location, construction type and other design elements will not be available until a subsequent Tier 2 environmental process.

In January, Marpe sent a letter to the Northeast Corridor (NEC) FUTURE in response to the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement.

“I appreciate that the preferred alternative continues to include routing through Westport and other towns and citizens in lower Fairfield County that view safe and efficient rail transportation as vital to their future,” he wrote

“However, the Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement raises serious residential and environmental issues that will need to be addressed as this project proceeds,” he added.

With the issuance of the ROD, Marpe expressed concern that the FRA is ignoring the interests of Westporters and other communities in southwest Fairfield County.

“I am reaching out to my counterparts in southwest Fairfield County,” Marpe said, “and we will be working with our federal and state legislative delegations, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as well as historic preservation organizations to insist that the FRA re-think this disruptive plan.”

Here is the pertinent excerpt from the FRA’s Record of Decision issued last month:

“From the Connecticut-New York state border to New Haven, the Selected Alternative includes capacity and modernization improvements to provide a four- to six-track railroad that meets the Selected Alternative’s service, frequency, and travel time objectives. Systems are upgraded through Norwalk to improve capacity and reliability. Upgrades at a modified Stamford Station, plus a new Intercity connection located between Stamford and Bridgeport (represented in the Tier 1 EIS by a modified station at Greens Farms), improve Intercity connectivity to the NEC. New Regional rail stations in Barnum (East Bridgeport) and Orange improve connectivity to the NEC.

“A chokepoint relief project at a modified New Haven Station improves Intercity and Regional rail train movements in and out of the station. The Selected Alternative includes replacement of the Cos Cob, Saugatuck, and Devon movable bridges. The new segment beginning in New Rochelle, N.Y., extends through Greenwich, Stamford, and Norwalk to Greens Farms.

“Additional high-speed track capacity is necessary to achieve the service frequency and travel time objectives between New York City and New Haven. The specific routing, location, construction type, and other design elements of this segment will be the subject of a subsequent Tier 2 environmental process.”

—James Lomuscio

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Posted 08/01/17 at 06:10 PM  Permalink



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